The Commissioner Youth and Children Affairs, Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MoGLSD) Mr. Mondo Kyateka, has called for incentivisation of birth registration among key priorities to foster child protection in refugee hosting areas.

Kyateka was chairing the national child protection working group meeting, which was convened on July 31, 2018 in Kampala.

The meeting discussed the report “Child Poverty and Deprivation in Refugee-Hosting Areas: Evidence from Uganda” which was authored by EPRC and University of Cardiff with funding from UNICEF.

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During the meeting, Sheila Depio, a Research Analyst with Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) shared the summary findings of the report where she cited incidences of child abuse, neglect, exploitation, violence and low prevalence of birth registration in refugee hosting areas.

Findings of the report indicate that birth registration; the first step to recognition and protection is generally low- about 35%.

However, a disaggregation by age revealed that birth registration was highest (46 percent) among the youngest (0-4 years) compared to the oldest cohort (15-17years) which had less than 25% children’s births registered.

The report attributes the relatively higher prevalence of birth certificates in the 0–4-year category to the recent drive by government and partners to increase birth registration through initiatives like the Mobile Vital Records System and decentralization of birth registration to lower local government units.

Kyateka commended the working group for unrelentingly contributing towards child protection and informed participants that the National Integrated Child Policy will be ready by close of 2018.

While referring to Mahatma Gandhi’s famous quote that “poverty is the worst form of violence”, Kyateka also called for an end to child marriage and integration of efforts to ensure effective delivery of services for children.

In addition to learning initiatives, the meeting raised the need  for psychosocial support for children in refugee camps. “One’s mind is inevitably destabilized by virtue of being in the refugee setting which calls for psychosocial support for adults and children,” Grace Namulwana a participant submitted.

The meeting also called for advancement of self-reliance for refugees. According to Depio only 6.7 percent refugees practice subsistence farming in the West Nile refugee settlements compared to 39.2 percent in the South West refugee settlements. No refugee practices commercial farming across all refugee-hosting communities.

Participants at the meeting further mooted for standardization of child protection messages, review of the effectiveness of child friendly space, reinvigoration of the use of child help line and review of child protection programs with special attention to children with disability and strengthening families as the first child protection institution.

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